Under B.C.’s new Wills, Estates and Succession Act, marriage does not revoke a Will. But a gift in a Will to someone who is (or becomes) a spouse is revoked if the people cease to be spouses.
In a marriage-like (or common law) relationship, if one person ends the relationship, it ends, simple as that. It takes more than that if the relationship is a marriage, but a separation will more than likely revoke a bequest.
However, spouses (married or common law) are not considered to have separated if, within a year after a separation, they start to live together again for the purpose of reconciling, and if they then live together for one or more periods totalling at least 90 days.
So, it is not clear in this situation if a reconciliation can revive a gift that was revoked. If the spouses actually did separate, and the legislation does not save their relationship status, any gift is revoked.
They will then need to make new Wills after they reconcile, to ensure the distribution of their Estates meets their wishes.
Note also that a separated spouse will not have an Estate claim if their former spouse dies without a Will.
This ad ran in the Richmond Review on May 23, 2014.